Hobbs paced back and forth in his study, feeling very unsettled. His thinning grey hair slicked back, and his hazel eyes with a circle of orange, representing a child of Hephaestus, looking a bit distraught. The office had been cleaned since Maria was last in it. His bookshelves no longer had misfiled papers lining the shelves, or books wide open in desperate search of information. No, he even had the windows open.
Just outside she could see the trees changing colors. The lake was still, and peaceful looking. Many times Maria had walked along the shore to relax. The headquarters was a giant mansion, glamoured to look like an average townhome in the middle of Lake Orion, Michigan. It was quite lovely actually. It had a Greek revival look to it, with the long pillars overextending the porch. The massive property sat about an acre up from the man-made lake. This, luckily, was bought out by Master O, her employer, under a false name so it couldn’t be traced.
Maria returned her attention to Hobbs. Mr. Price’s head sitting on his desk still wrapped in the gym bag. Her share of the reward would allow her to buy the new Jeep Wrangler she had her eye on, if she could convince her grandfather to let her have it. Master O must have known that Mr. Price was an employee, not the head honcho. Hobbs clearly didn’t know Mr. Price had a master, as proved by his massive fit of anger that he displayed. It took everything in Maria to get him not to throw the man’s head against the wall.
A long ten minutes later, the door to the study swung open. Maria’s grandfather, Gene, walked in from their briefing room. For years, she thought that he was an international affairs consultant, dealing with making business agreements with foreign counterparts. It was partly true he was a consultant, for the most part. He handled all the negotiations with Master O, and their team, and ran the Northern American branch of assassin’s. The tall man with dark salt and pepper hair walked over to a leather chair behind the desk. A mask lined his face giving off no sign of what emotions were running through his head.
“Maria, they’re very pleased with your efforts,” His silver eyes gave away a little hint of pride. “They are however concerned with what you found. A team is being developed to investigate the matter. I volunteered myself from our branch to investigate the house.”
Hobbs nodded at his counterpart. Naturally, this meant that Hobbs would take over everything until her grandfather would return. That of course, involved hours upon hours of training for Maria. Her freshly stitched wounds now ached with the thought of Hobbs’ rigorous training. She liked the few hours a day she spent with her busy grandfather, where they would learn about histories, remedies, and any bit of information needed for survival. Though after what she saw today, she wouldn’t mind the extra physical training in the long run.
“The demigod you brought to us could be of great use. You will assist Hobbs in interrogating him. We’ve sent Sande to tend to his wounds. He should be up for a chat later today.” Her grandfather nodded at her.
“What of the sword?” She asked knowing it may not have been the right time.
This time Hobbs answered. “It is quite curious that the sword obeyed your command.” He raised his graying eyebrows at her. “The last time a sword like this was seen, was when it was locked in vault in Tartarus.”
Maria froze. This sword was banned in Tartarus? Only the evilest of creatures and objects were trapped in Tartarus. Obviously the sword had claimed her as its rightful master, but how many innocent lives were taken with its blade? The dark black sword glistened in the light. Pure glass moonlight gleamed back towards her.
“Do you know who it belonged to before me?” She eyed both Hobbs, and her grandfather.
“No, we haven’t a clue,” Hobbs answered. “What we do know, is it’s made of a black zircon, a material most widely known in the weapons of titans. The stone can absorb, and channel your energy, as well as help to heal its master.”
“The stone is very selective however. Power within the stone is great, but you must be chosen to use it.” Maria’s grandfather said looking at the blade. “Up until now, the only beings able to prove themselves worthy of handling black zircon were titans.”
With the dismissal of her grandfather, she and Hobbs walked down to their infirmary. The thin black blade now strapped tightly against her back. Her thoughts shifted to her grandfather, fear for his safety bubbled up through her chest. She saw what was in the mansion of Mr. Xavier Price. Those horrors still plastered in her mind. Though it was tough to see him go, she knew if anyone could piece the puzzles together it would be him. Hopefully, they would destroy that mad house for good.
The infirmary’s door was open. Sande stood at a stainless steel counter mixing something of a greenish hue together. When Hobbs coughed as a way of announcing their arrival, Sande turned around to face him. His dark smoky eyes peered at them. He was a handsome man with soft coffee colored skin, and a strong angular face. He had a bright yellow circle surrounding his iris to mark Asclepius, god of medicine, as his parentage. Maria didn’t know any other demigods with the mending skills that matched Sande’s, even the children of Apollo failed in comparison.
Apparently, Ezra had managed to slip the syringe into his pocket before being knocked out by Mr. Price. That gained him some points in Maria’s book. Sande could now test it with, Cassandra, daughter of Athena, and get the results back to Master O.
“I wondered when you would be stopping by,” Ezra said with a warm smile.
He lay sprawled out along the cot. A sweet honey color in his face was now apparent. His left eye was no longer swollen, and only a faint red mark surrounding it laid proof of the happenings. Without his face all mashed up Maria could tell how attractive he was. Obviously the children of Aphrodite were gorgeous, she just hadn’t noticed how much until now. His blond hair was now shiny, and nicely brushed. His captivating green eyes and pink irises smiled slightly as she approached. Hobbs stepped in front of her and acknowledged Ezra.
“We thank you for supporting Maria with your actions.” He gave a firm confirmation. “I’m Hobbs, Maria here, is one of my protégés.”
“Pleased to meet you both,” He bowed his head slightly.
“If you don’t mind me asking son, what was the reason you were in the mansion to begin with?”
Son, Maria knew that Ezra was in trouble now. That wasn’t in Hobbs’ usual vocabulary. Hobbs was an understanding man, but he got what he wanted. It was clear to Maria that perhaps Hobbs hadn’t been as happy with the rescue as she had thought. A clear mask of nothing but concern was written across his face. Maria knew it was an act.
“I’ll tell you, but you may not believe me,” Ezra responded
“Try me,” Hobbs egged him on.
“My mother appeared to me in a dream. She went on about a terrible act of love being committed…” He paused for a moment. “She forced a face through my subconscious for a week straight. Making it extremely clear that I was to find him, and stop him.” He looked at Hobbs and her as if to challenge them to question him.
“Your mother appeared to you, even though it is in direct violation to contact a child until the age of twenty-five?” Hobbs challenged right back.
“I didn’t ask for it, okay? Everyone knows Aphrodite will do what she wants anyways. So I dressed up as a salesman trying to seek entry into the home,” He paused. His voice was almost back to normal. It was rich, and colorful, easily painting a story as he spoke.
“I thought I had him and that it was going well…” A look of sadness washed over him. “That was until the hooded man struck me from behind. They locked me in the dirt cell. A few times they even tried to perform experiments on me.” He showed his now barely visible wounds that lined his arms. “If I hadn’t been a demigod, I’d already be dead.” The look in his eyes showed the seriousness of his words.
“What of your persuasion, you mean to tell us that you couldn’t persuade a mortal to release you?” Hobbs questioned
“He and his goblins were immune. I’ve never seen anything like it. Whoever was working with him must have alerted him to potential threats from me,” He responded.
“If we choose to believe you, what will you do of us?” He asked.
“I suppose I’m in your gratitude for saving my life, and healing my wounds. For that I will be at your disposal.” He looked Maria straight in the eyes before going on. “But when you go after them again, I want to come with you.”